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Home / Articles / Columnists / Fitness by Larisa /  Chemicals and children
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Friday, January 5,2018

Chemicals and children

By Larisa Klein  

All -natural foods are hard to find. This makes it even more important that we know what artificial ingredients we ingest and how they interact with our chemistry. It is difficult to prove that any one particular chemical is damaging to our health, but sometimes increased negative side effects can be linked to them. Such is the case with food colorings. They escaped scrutiny for decades but were eventually linked to behavioral changes in some children.

Food colorings were first approved in 1931. Originally made from coal tar, they are now made from petroleum products. Since then, Orange No. 1 was found to be toxic in the 1950’s and Red No. 2 was banned in 1976 as a carcinogen. The FDA is responsible for consumer safety, and hence, finding toxicities associated with ingestible chemicals. While the institution could not prove colorings as dangerous, it is somewhat protected from future findings by requiring the listing of artificial colors in the list of ingredients. This is similar to why a manufacturer would want to list any allergens as part of its product. (Parent Dish, 2011) Pediatrician Benjamin Feingold was the first to bring attention to the possible link between food coloring and behavioral and health problems in children in the 1970s. However, showing causality between a substance and a health problem is difficult to do. For example, the first warnings about the health hazards of cigarette smoking were put forth by the Surgeon General in 1964, but it took 20 years to get the warning labels on the package. And this was an argument over chemicals which are much more dangerous. (www. One particular study in England, 2007, did link food dyes and hyperactivity in children. As a result, the European Parliament passed a law in 2008 requiring the label “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” (Gleason, 2011) Our country was unable to do the same. The FDA was unable to prove a connection between food colorings and altered behavior in children. However, it was able to state that based on their findings, “’certain susceptible children’ with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may be exacerbated by exposure to ‘a number of substances in food, including, but not limited to, synthetic color additives!" (Parent Dish, 2011) This statement was not received well by manufacturers. Studies were countered with arguments listing the difficulty of studying children, other eating habits, and lack of exercise as possible contributors to these behaviors. Scientists and food manufacturers believe these warning labels are unnecessary. But groups like CSPI believe that parents should be aware of the possibility of such effects. (Gleason, 2011) Ironically, foods with the largest amounts of artificial colorings are foods which are largely consumed by children. Cereals, Jell-O gelatin snacks, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Cheetos, and many such fun colored foods are targeted at and loved by children. Sadly, these foods should be nowhere near any child regardless of whether they contain artificial colorings. The addition of any chemical to make the unhealthy food even more attractive to children raises ethical questions. But since studies on children are unethical and difficult to carry out, we will never truly know whether or how these chemicals affect them. (Parent Dish, 2011) Artificial colors are used over natural dyes because they are cheap and bright. One simply could not get such colors from natural sources. A main counterpoint of food chemists for consulting firms is that chemical dyes are studied in depth and we know their effects, but “little is known about the effects of the amount of spinach it would take to color one M&M green.” (Gleason, 2011) The good news is that stores like Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s do not carry foods made with artificial food colorings. In addition, the market is somewhat changing. Kraft Foods, for example, is beginning to manufacture foods free of dyes. They include organic white macaroni and cheese and Kool Aid invisible. (Gleason, 2011) Is chocolate simply not palatable enough without the colorful coating? Are chocolate and orange powdered foods what we should be feeding our children anyway? Should we be getting our children addicted to sugars, salt, and chemicals from such an early age?

Larisa Klein • Wellness Achieved Studios • 3000 E Commercial Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. 33308 • • 954-600-9828 Larisa has been training in Yoga, Pilates, and functional weight training for 20 years since. 1997. She has extensive experience working with cancer survivors, people with various physical special conditions (joint/spinal injuries/operations/replacements/MS/etc.), internal special conditions (schizophrenia, drug/alcohol addictions) as well as triatheletes and Olympians. She is a black belt with full competition experience, a current practitioner of Kung Fu, and has an MA in Mathematics and a second BS in Alternative Medicine.


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